PUBLISHED: 4:46 PM on Wednesday, January 3, 2007
Starbucks finds local niche at Fred Meyer
Starbucks Coffee, located in the newly renovated Fred Meyer store, is doing well since the Dec. 11, opening. The coffee store, which is a kiosk near the deli department, offers hot and cold coffee and non-coffee drinks, a small baked goods selection and other miscellaneous packaged coffee products. Sampling Starbuck's wares, previously considered a "down South" treat, is now an everyday ritual for some locals.

"I'm happy that they're here," said shopper, Natalie Martin, 39. She said her favorite drink is a mocha with half the chocolate.

Lindsay Auckland, 21, a Horizon flight attendant, said, "It's always consistent."

Cedric Kincaid, food manager at Fred Meyer, said the decision to put in Starbucks was made corporately. Another reason was "being able to offer Juneau customers new items," said apparel manager, Jaime San Miguel. Kincaid said Fred Meyer is not the exclusive chain for having Starbucks in their stores; they can also be found in Target and Safeway stores.

The coffee kiosk is one of many latest additions to Juneau's center superstore. Other additions include a sushi bar, soup bar, olive bar and gourmet pastry display; a pet center is coming soon, Kincaid said. The small coffee shop, which is a typical size for in-store locations, is enjoyed by employees and local fans.

From starting out small, the worldwide coffee company has expanded significantly. Starbucks was first founded in 1971, and opened its first location in Seattle's renowned Pike Place Market.

It was named after the first mate in Herman Melville's novel, "Moby Dick." Originally, the company's name was Starbucks Coffee, Tea and Spices and was later changed to Starbucks Coffee Company. The company's coffee drinks are based upon Italian-style espresso beverages.

Company coffeehouses, located throughout North America, Europe, Middle East, the Pacific Rim and Latin America, have more than 40 million customer visits per week, according to the Starbucks Web site. Also, its Web site lists Starbucks as the world's leading retailer, roaster and brand of specialty coffee.

The response has been very positive at Fred Meyer, managers said.

"I think it added more traffic to the store right when it opens at 7 (a.m.)," San Miguel said.

"I think as the store progresses it will be a draw to the whole store," Kincaid said.

At the Fred Meyer location, local employees were trained by a Starbuck's operations specialist for two weeks before opening. Starbuck's manager, Fabiola Driver, said they follow the company's standards concerning drink quality and preparation.

During the holidays they've been especially busy and having high sales, Driver said.

"We're doing great and everything is selling awesome," she said. She said she already has regulars who order the same thing every time.

The most popular drinks currently are holiday flavors, such as gingerbread and eggnog latte, Driver said. Other holiday drinks include Christmas blend coffee, a peppermint mocha and pumpkin spice latte.

For non-coffee drinkers, Fred Meyer employee Todd Rushing, said they make a good strawberry crème drink (i.e. strawberries and crème blended frappuccino crème).

A Fred Meyer employee for four years, Driver thought working at Starbucks would be great. She said it's fast paced and everything she expected.

While opinions vary among community members, business shouldn't suffer for local coffee stores. Due to convenience and location, people shopping at Fred Meyer may head for Starbucks, and customers shopping downtown may veer toward Heritage Coffee or Valentine's Coffee House for their favorite drink.

"My experience with coffeehouses down South is you can have one on every corner, and they all do well," Kincaid said. Most coffeehouses offer something specific and different than the other, and people like options.

He said having Starbucks here was nothing to disparage against Heritage Coffee; it was just an alternative, he said. Additionally, Fred Meyer will be adding a bulk coffee section in for Heritage, which is a good seller for the company, he said.

"We open stores as we know there is a demand," said Starbuck's representative Lisa Passe, concerning coffeehouse growth in Juneau.